MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE — A good Samaritan with poor judgment and potentially no permit to carry made a bad call when chasing down a shoplifter from the Wolfchase mall. According to witness testimony, he took off after the shoplifter, 23-year-old Nathan Williams, and discharged a round from his pistol into the asphalt of the parking lot as a “warning shot”.
Things got even crazier when the shoplifter grabbed onto the top of a moving SUV to make his escape. He rolled off the SUV and attempted to solicit a ride from an ambulance. When the ambulance driver told the shoplifter that he would only take him to the emergency room, the criminal stole the keys of the ambulance. A passenger in the ambulance chased down Nathan Williams and tackled him to the ground. The passenger held Williams down until police arrived but the keys to the ambulance were broken in the altercation.
According to WMC Action News 5, Williams was charged with the attempted burglary of two vehicles and vandalism totaling less than $500.
The would-be good Samaritan, however, was charged with reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a weapon. This is our big clue that perhaps this guy didn’t have a permit to carry otherwise his charges would have likely been just reckless endangerment. It will be up to the judge to decide who ends up getting the longer sentence. Our guess is “attempting to help” gets nailed just as hard as being a bad guy in this case — which is both tragic and extremely avoidable.
Witnesses at the scene describe this sort of behavior as the new norm. It’s a sad thing when blatant criminal activity has become an expected consequence to visiting a mall around Memphis. One witness described how situations like this affected his view of carrying a gun everyday.
“I’m a gun-carrying citizen, so I think more people need to arm themselves just to be ready for something like that that does happen,” Scott Cummings said.
Cummings said it is a sad reality when people have to prepare for violence when they go shopping or work in the wall. He said the first response should not be violence, but it is an option today.
“I obviously would flee, but if confronted with someone, you have to deal with it,” Cummings said.
As for the “good guy” in this situation, unfortunately he had a classic case of good initiative, poor judgment. First off, Tennessee is a shall issue state for issuing concealed carry permits — so it’s not hard to get a permit to carry. Secondly, Tennessee enjoys an incredible range of reciprocity for concealed carry permits with other states. Third, if he had actually spent the time and attention in a concealed carry class or understood just basic firearm safety, he would have known that his actions were woefully inappropriate. We’ve covered similar stories where an actual concealed carrier has made the mistake of attempting to pursue a shoplifter and we always reiterate the same points: not your fight.
If you see a violent felony taking place and it’s not directly against you, in many states you have the option of interceding on behalf of the victim. Shoplifting is not a violent crime. Now, if Williams had attempted to carjack an armed citizen, he would have been in for an extremely nasty surprise. But shooting “warning shots” at shoplifters is never an appropriate response.